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Superstar Mariah Carey joins Walt Disney Company President and CEO Robert A. Iger (right), Walt Disney Parks and Resorts Chairman Thomas O. Staggs and Mickey Mouse for the christening of the newest ship of Disney Cruise Line, the Disney Fantasy, in New York City, on March 1, 2012. In a maritime tradition, the award-winning recording artist served as godmother for the 4,000-passenger Disney Fantasy. (Photo Credit: Matt Stroshane/Disney, photographer)

*After more than two years working tirelessly adding the newest luxury ship to its amazing cruise line, on Thursday, March 1, 2012, Walt Disney Company finally realized the fruits of their labor of love when they proudly christened the newest luxury ship, the 4,000 passenger Disney Fantasy, during a joyful inaugural evening filled with merriment and top notch entertainment provided by Heather Headley, Neil Patrick Harris, Jerry Seinfeld and the cast and crew of the astonishingly beautiful new ship before it headed south to the ship’s new home in Port Canaveral to prepare for the upcoming Maiden Voyage on March 31, 2012.

The star-studded launch celebration took place at Pier 88 in New York Harbor where Walt Disney Company president and CEO Bob Iger was joined by the ship’s stellar godmother, Mariah Carey, Mickey Mouse, and Walt Disney Parks and Resorts chairman Tom Staggs to do the honors and officially welcome this stunning new ship into the Disney family.

Carey led the audience in a countdown that triggered a 6-foot tall bottle of champagne in the Atrium Lobby to erupt and shower onlookers with confetti and streamers as a traditional bottle of champagne broke against the ship’s hull officiated by Nick Cannon and Minnie Mouse.

“The Disney Fantasy is a spectacular addition to our fleet and builds on the creativity, innovation and artistry that are hallmarks of the Disney Cruise Line,” said Iger.  “Like her sister ship, the Dream, the Fantasy will connect guests to iconic Disney characters and storytelling, creating unforgettable, one-of-a-kind vacation experiences for the entire family.”

The Disney Fantasy continues the Disney Cruise Line tradition of blending the elegant grace of early 20th century transatlantic ocean liners with contemporary design to create one of the most stylish and spectacular cruise ships afloat. Sister ship to the Disney Dream, the Disney Fantasy offers modern features, new innovations and unmistakable Disney touches.

The magnificent three-deck atrium lobby on the Disney Fantasy is reminiscent of grand ocean liners of the Golden Age.  Art Nouveau-inspired details and patterns in hues of vibrant blue, green, pink and gold lend to the sophistication.  Glamorous and graceful design elements include a sweeping grand staircase, towering fluted columns, grand piano and an exquisite marble and stone inlay floor.  A focal point is a cascading chandelier of stained glass and crystal beads.

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Fantasy Godmother and award-winning entertainer Mariah Carey and hubby Nick Cannon attend Fantasy christening in New York City. (Photo Credit: Getty Image)

When the Disney Fantasy begins sailing on March 31, 2012, it will continue the innovative approach Disney Cruise line brought to family cruise vacations with a collection of new guest experiences specifically developed for the ship’s seven-night itinerary. There are places and experiences, dining and entertainment concepts that are hallmarks of the Disney Cruise Line experience.  Here’s more of what’s in store during a Disney Fantasy cruise:

Technological Wizardry. . .

Animator’s Palate on the Disney Fantasy brings the magic of Disney animation into the dining room with a new show called “Animation Magic.” At dinner, families are encouraged to draw a character of their own on a specially designed placemat. Once the placemats are collected, the magic begins as Mickey takes to the screens and brings the guests’ characters to life as they march across screens around the dining room and even step into scenes from beloved Disney movies side-by-side with characters such as Mickey Mouse, Jiminy Cricket, Cinderella and Snow White.

The Muppets are coming to the Disney Fantasy! Guests can join the world-famous Muppets for interactive adventure quest to find missing show props by uncovering clues via more than a dozen pieces of Enchanted Art around the ship. Guided by a map and holding a unique game card in front of select pieces of Enchanted Art, guests unveil games and clues to find the missing items. “The Case of the Stolen Show” is a self-paced adventure game that features several possible endings and multiple randomized events – so each time a guest plays, they have a different game experience.

Splashtacular Family Fun. . .

Soaring above the upper decks of the Disney Fantasy, guests will find the AquaDuck a 765-foot long, twisting-and-turning water coaster that has been a huge hit with guests sailing on the Disney Dream. Several new water surprises are set to debut on the Disney Fantasy including AquaLab — a water play area on the upper deck filled with a variety of water “experiments,” created by Donald Duck’s nephews, designed to drench, soak and saturate guests. This fanciful 1,800-square-foot space features pop jets, geysers, bubblers, falling water, squirting walls and more.

On Deck 13 forward, guests 18-years of age and older will find a new relaxing respite. Satellite Falls is a circular splash pool with benches and a gently falling rain curtain that provides cool comfort and is surrounded by ample deck space where adult guests can soak up the sun in loungers or relax in the shade under a canopy.

World-Class Entertainment. . .

The launch of a new Disney ship includes the premiere of two new Broadway-style stage spectaculars in the lavish Walt Disney Theatre. The signature show “Wishes” is a 45-minute musical journey about three best friends who discover the secret to being a grown-up is staying connected to their inner child. “Disney’s Aladdin – A Musical Spectacular” is a fast-paced musical comedy where Aladdin, the “street rat” of Agrabah, meets a Genie who grants him three wishes, battles the evil Jafar and falls in love with Princess Jasmine.

Club Hopping Across Europe. . .

Nightlife takes a European twist with Europa – an entertainment district of high-energy, sophisticated clubs and lounges inspired by the night spots of Italy, France, Ireland and London. Europa is a continent of adult nighttime fun without borders. La Piazza is a lounge that draws inspiration from stylish Italian plazas. Skyline is a chic bar that provides ever-changing birds-eye views of European cityscapes. O’Gills Pub is a rollicking Irish bar and Ooh La La is an elegant French champagne bar. The Tube transports guests to a vibrant metropolitan club reminiscent of swinging London. Highlights include:

La Piazza is a lounge that draws inspiration from Italian cities and their decorative outdoor plazas.  The bar is modeled after a colorful vintage carousel.  Venetian masks, romantic couples’s booths and a classic Vespa with a sidecar add Italian flair.

O’Gill’s Pub is a rollicking Irish bar with modern-day twists.  Dark woods, brass accents and a selection of Irish beers create the perfect pub atmosphere where guests can sip a pint while watching live sporting events on one of several high-definition televisions.

Ooh La La is inspired by an elegant French boudoir adorned with velvet tufted walls, Victorian furniture and Louis XIV-style chaise lounges.  A sensuous color palate is accented with ornate framed mirrors, gold details and a “jewel box” feature bar backed with sparkling diamond-like facets.

Skyline is a chic bar that provides ever-changing birds-eye views of stunning European city skylines that transform from day to night. Skyline’s “windows to the world” give guests a glimpse of spectacular locales in panorama such as Paris, London, Barcelona, Athens and St. Petersburg.

The Tube transports guests to a vibrant metropolitan club via the London Underground. Guests “mind the gap” as they walk across a Tube route map, lounge among mod furniture, pose by a red English phone booth, dance atop an illuminated Union Jack dance floor and enjoy cocktails at a bar inspired by Big Ben and London’s many train stations.

Another spectacular experience beyond the beauteous lobby is Senses Spa & Salon, an environment that provides relaxation and tranquility to adult guests on the Disney Fantasy, featuring the Rainforest Room. This serene space offers the benefits of steam, heat and hydrotherapy to help guests completely unwind and indulge by pampering themselves with a variety of tropical, aromatic showers, or by reclining in heated, mosaic tile loungers while observing calming ocean views.

“At Disney Parks and Resorts, we strive to be the most trusted and highest quality provider of shared travel and leisure experiences in the world,” said Tom Staggs.  “From stem to stern, the Disney Fantasy was designed and built with the singular purpose of surprising and delighting our guests, helping them make memories to last a lifetime.”

The Disney Fantasy will sail from Port Canaveral, Fla. on seven-night Caribbean itineraries that alternate eastern (St. Maarten and St. Thomas) and western (Grand Cayman, Costa Maya, Cozumel). All itineraries will include a stop at Disney’s private island, Castaway Cay. To learn more about Disney Cruise Line or to book a vacation, guests can visit www.disneycruise.com, call Disney Cruise Line at 888-325-2500 or contact their travel agent.

Audrey J. Bernard is an established chronicler of Black society and Urban happenings based in the New York City area.

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